Monday, June 30, 2008

Tina’s Wild Life!

Many of you know that California has been experiencing a drought. Which is, of course, difficult not just for the human dwellers, but the grass, the trees--and of course, the wild animals.

We live on a mountainside, and our sightings over the years have included squirrels, coyotes, possums, skunks, deer, raccoons and roosters. Rattlesnake and mountain lion warnings are often posted in late summer--but I am pleased to say no one in my family has personally come across one.

With the drought, it’s only natural for the animals to become more aggressive, and I admit I leave a water bowl out for “friends” who pass through our backyard, which I regularly freshen.

But when a sewer dwelling mama raccoon discovered our open cat door, and started bringing her three young-ins inside for nocturnal feasts, we had to take action. Locking locking the cat door when we went to bed, we found out, only encouraged them to show up earlier, and let me just tell you that it’s darned freaky to look up from your taco salad and lock eyes with a family of raccoons.

I researched raccoon deterrents and laughed out loud when I read the one thing that would keep them away: the scent of human urine. I told my sons to outside the kitchen door and have a field day!

Last night, I was drifting off to sleep when I heard rustling in the bamboo plant outside our window. I didn’t think much of it...a cat or squirrel or something...until the stench hit. POW. Skunk spray!

At first I thought it was coming in the a/c vents, but my husband--who then realized he’d left the sprinkler running on the bamboo plant--told me that older houses like ours simply aren’t air tight. And now here was the real rub. What to do while gagging? Turn off the a/c and open the windows? But the fresh air was skunk air! Go to a hotel? (Kidding.) So we spent the entire night sleeping with pillows over our faces, and woke to more pungent Eau Du Skunk, which I feared would hang endlessly in the air--as well as on our skin, hair and clothing. Don't they say the stench is hard to lose? (However, the PS here is I finally DID get the house aired out. We are once again skunk scent free.)

And that time, I didn’t need my friend Google. I’m sure the skunk was drawn to the running sprinkler (where he met up with a cat or raccoon or something that alarmed him). Believe me when I say we won’t run it overnight again. And meanwhile, I’ll just keep hoping for rain...

How about you? Mice in the attic? Bats in the belfry? Possums in the pantry? Share your stories!


Tina Ferraro
How to Hook a Hottie - Book Sense Top Teen Pick
Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress - Finalist, National Reader’s Choice Award


Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Wow, Tina! It's really is a wild world out there! Luckily up in Seattle, the ONE thing we never have to worry about is drought...BUT I do have raccoons on my roof. Every morning and night, I see four little paws and cat-sized body traipsing on top of my skylights. They scare the heck out of my kitty and he stands perfectly still staring up for as long as he can see their feet.

I'm sorry about your stink problem...hopefully it gets better today!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Tina,
All I can think of is the time when we lived in Michigan and my husband was going hunting and he had this skunk spray stuff that he would use in the woods. Well..the bottle broke in our basement! That was the most horrible smell and it lasted forever!
The good thing was...he went hunting and came back empty handed. I never could, never will, get behind that sport.


stephhale said...

This is funny because I had my own little brush with wildlife last night. I was sitting in the living room watching TV when the couch seemed to start rattling. I thought it was one of the kids so I turned on the light but no kids. That really freaked me out. I spent the rest of the night in my bedroom with the hallway barricaded. When hubby got home at 12:30 I made him turn the couch over and investigate. Nothing. I've been wearing my tennis shoes all day just in case something runs out. :)
Ps- I once heard that tomato juice neutralizes the skunk odor but don't know if it's true.

TinaFerraro said...

Dona, paws on skylights--what an image!

Janie, it sounds like you've already experienced the skunk smell. Sorry!

And Steph, yes, keep those shoes on! Eeewww. A couple years ago in Texas I came upon an armadillo, and the first thing that ran through my mind--in typical chick lit fashion--was that I was in open-toed sandals!

And yes, I've heard about tomato juice, too, but I think we narrowly escaped that need...

Rachael Stein said...

hey, i live in Cali too!! but in a suburban area where the most common wild animals are stray cats and the occasional possum. once we found stray kittens in our garage. they were really cute and i wanted to keep them, but they were black and my mom is superstitious, so we brought them to a shelter.

TinaFerraro said...

Hey Cali Book Muncher! Of course a shelter is a great place for a kitten, too, since that's where so many people go to adopt them...

Cara King said...

Of course a shelter is a great place for a kitten, too, since that's where so many people go to adopt them...

So true, Tina! Coincidentally enough, I just adopted two kittens from a shelter two weeks ago! And now my favorite things to do are pet the kitties, and show folks my new scars. :-)

My wildlife hatred is squirrels. They are PURE EVIL. They dig up my potted plants, and if they're not in the mood for that, they shred them. I can nurse a little plant for six months, working hard to help it survive the insane heat here in Southern Cali (me too!), and then in five minutes, a squirrel can end its leafy little life.

If they ever discover a habitable planet without squirrels, I'm moving there.


TinaFerraro said...

Oh, Cara, from one kitty lover to cat is almost 2 years old, and I still have scratch marks on my right hand and arm from all our playing. He was a rescue kitty, too, although not from a shelter. His pregnant mom was found wandering, and someone took her in and found homes for the kittens. :)

And too funny about the squirrels. Yeah, they really have ATTITUDE here in "the southland."

Me said...

Ugh, Tina. No fun. I don't mind the raccoons (I know, diseases and all that) but the skunk?!? No thank you.

When we lived in San Diego (long, long ago) we had 1/2 an acre and a huge circular drive the wound around the whole property. We came home late one night to find a skunk hanging out in the driveway right next to our pool. We never once though he might be there for the water--duh!